BWW Review: NO NO NANETTE Sparkles at Candlelight
No No Nanette/book by Otto Harbach and Frank Mandel/adapted by Burt Shevelove/'music by Vincent Youmans; lyrics by Irving Caesar and Otto Harbach/directed by John LaLonde/choreographed by John Vaughan/musical director: Douglas Austin/Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre, Claremont/through April 13
Based on Frank Mandel's 1919 play My Lady Friends, the musical version No No Nanette bowed on Broadway in 1925 and spawned many movies through the years. But it wasn't until 1971, in a rollicking revival adapted by Burt Shevelove, that the musical became a great big hit, winning several Tonys. Now on stage at the Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre, John LaLonde directs a fun packed production with spectacularly frenzied choreography by John Vaughan through April 13.
Nanette is a satire on the American elite of the 1920s, the idol rich so to speak, who have millions of dollars and do not know what to do with it. Three couples are at play: Jimmy (Frank Minano), a bible publisher - that's hysterically funny in itself - and his frugal wife Sue (Tracy Ray Reynolds), friends Billy (Michael Milligan), also Jimmy's lawyer, and his wife Lucille (Colette Peters), who's a shopaholic, throwing away Billy's money like water ... and Jimmy's ward Nanette (Erin Dubreuil), the apple of young Tom's (David Sasik) eye. He wants to marry Nanette, but she has a wild yet inexperienced side snd runs off to Atlantic City to let her hair down and "steal a little sunshine; raise a little hell". Jimmy's dilemma is that he has promised to sponsor financially three lady friends from various parts of the country: Betty from Boston (Drew Lake), Winnie from Washington (Erin Tierney) and Flora from Frisco (Catie Marron). These are platonic friends, but all three "vamps" have gigantic plans of their own and try to take him for every cent he's got. Billy, as his lawyer, steps in to help Jimmy get rid of them and secret meetings are planned for Atlantic City where the folks own Chickadee Cottage. The three ladies, by the way, are hilarious over.the.top cartoon sendups, each with a uniquely painted look and flamboyant behavior, in comparison to Nanette, the innocent little rich girl who longs desperately to copy their style. Jimmy's maid Pauline (Mary Murphy-Nelson) acts as chaperone to Nanette, but she herself cuts loose, so it's mayhem galore. Mistaken identities result, as is the case in any fine farce; nevertheless, you can be assured of a happy ending.
No No Nanette, in fact, is one of those shows that does not really require your complete mental attention. Its "I Want To Be Happy"attitude with songs and tap numbers every few minutes without warning or reason, is what makes it such enjoyable freewheeling fare.
The cast under LaLonde's loving direction and with Vaughan's deliciously vibrant dance moves turn in delightful performances, especially the gals. Lake, Tierney and Marron steal the show as the flapper con gals. "The Three Happies" shows and tells all. Reynolds and Peters are standouts as Sue and Lucille, and Dubreuil as sweet, fun loving Nanette wins our hearts. Minano as Jimmy is so wonderful in a want.to.hate.him but can't.stop.liking.him kind of guy. I think Pauline as written is the funniest role in the show. It requires a lot of broad fanciful playing. Murphy-Nelson does well, but could go even further comedically. Praise to the entire ensemble for being such wonderful triple-threat performers.
Vincent Youmans and Irving Caesar and Otto Harbach's songs including the aforementioned "I Want To Be Happy", "Tea For Two", "Take a Little One-Step" and the title song "No No Nanette" are a joy to listen to. Otto Harbach and Frank Mandel's book adapted by Burt Shevelove has such humorous, thought-provoking lines as "No decent woman has $200" or "Can money heal a broken heart? It can try." And when was the last time you remember hearing romance referred to as spooning and saucy women as vamps?
Chuck Ketter's set design is functional and fun to look at with the New York manse converting into the beach and nightspot in Atlantic City, and The Theatre Company's costumes are period perfect and colorfully easy on the eye._ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Act One at Candlelight is the food, which is scrumptious and the waiter staff are per usual friendly and terribly efficient. The slow roasted tri-tip remains a favorite, with the famous Bollinger cut out of this world for only $5.95 more. The desserts are to die for...and so big! The drink specials for a mere $6 include "Call of the Sea" a delicious red Sangria drink. "Peach on the Beach", and for Irish coffee lovers "The Chickadee".
Next up at Candlelight is Bright Star opening April 19 just in time for Easter. Make early reservations as most shows sell out way in advance.
(photo credit: Demetrios Katsantonis)